All of us are watchers – of television, of time clocks, of traffic on the freeway – but few are observers. Everyone is looking, not many are seeing….

Peter M. Leschak

If his writing is any clue, you would want Peter M. Leschak as your leader if you ever became courageous–or crazy–enough to fight forest fires for a living. The latest of his nine books, Ghosts of the Fireground: Echoes of the Great Peshtigo Fire and the Calling of a Wildland Firefighter, shows a writing style notable for its coherence, tautness and precision–just the kind of mind to get you out of a tight spot. It is, in fact, the kind of writing that has gotten Leschak’s thoughtful personal essays (which now number 270) into Harper’s, The New York Times Magazine and Outdoor Life. Leschak, 51, leads an unusual hybrid existence: He writes in the winters and then, as a seasonal employee of Minnesota’s Division of Forestry, fights fires in the summers (both locally and nationally). A former ministerial candidate, he lives with his wife, Pam, in a log cabin they built in Side Lake, Minn.


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